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Why do people don’t like you and don’t listen to you? || Acharya Prashant, with NIT-Warangal (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
18 min
40 reads

Questioner (Q): Good evening, Acharya ji. I have two questions, my first question is regarding me personally. The thing that I face is that when I am speaking to someone or in a group, I always tend to provoke people with my ideas and whatever opinion I have. For example, I can tell you, when I am talking to people regarding what you teach, what other, Guru’s teach like Osho. The ideas that I tell them regarding the various text that we have, they are often provoked.

That is one example I am telling you. And I don’t no this happens to me every sphere, whatever ideas I am telling, things that I am talking to people the conversation get really awkward at that point they start to repel. And if I am talking to someone new, well I often come as charming.

But eventually when they get to know me, my depth they don’t like me enough, So, what I can do to make myself more likeable even though if I have provocative thoughts as people have signaled to me previously. That is my first question. Should I continue with the next question also?

Acharya Prashant (AP): No, let me respond to it. See, the purpose of communication, is not merely to send a few words to the other or ideas to the other from your side. The communicator or the speaker is also responsible for, what the other one has received. In fact, the communicator or the speaker is responsible even for what the other one has interpreted or construed.

So, when you speak obviously you want the other to understand, don’t you? If you find instead of understanding others, rather get provoked, they react and they resist, then your own purpose is not being served. Because I am sure that is not that you had intended.

And if that’s what you intended, then there is serious problem. Because the ego can find a lot of pleasure in instigating others, in getting others to flare up, react, get angry. The Ego might say, look at my power, look at my potency of my words. With a few words I got all these fellows so worked up. See how angry they are, see how I broke their poise, their peace.

Because if you can get somebody to react, it’s almost like, getting him enslaved. You now have his number, his handle. You know where to press the button. So, the ego can find that quite pleasing, you have to be cautious. However, let me assume, that is the not the case with you, let me assume that it is not with the explicit purpose of eliciting a reaction, that you speak.

Let me assume that you speak, with the right intentions. Then you must know, the limit of your responsibility, and your responsibility as we said, is not just limited to what you utter. It is limited not even what reaches the other. It extends to what the other feels about it, how the other interprets it. So, you have to first of all begin with that in mind. Right?

There are people who say, their job is to speak the Truth and after that how the others receive it is none of their business. Even that is not a very honest position to take. How the others interpret you is very much your own business. And that’s why attention towards the audience is needed, that’s why there have to be a thousand ways to communicate the same point.

That is why empathy is needed. If empathy is not there the other one will not open up. If he will not open up, there would be no listening, if there is no listening there is no communication. You are not speaking to the walls; you are not speaking to an audio recording device. You are speaking to conscious people, with all their frailties their imperfections, and their needs.

People have their pains, their biases, their pasts. They don’t come from nowhere. We all stand at specific positions of the ego. And it is from this positions that we listen to whatever we do. Therefore the speaker has to first of all know where the listener is standing. Right examples have to be crafted, the right language has to be chosen, the right tone, the right words and the right time and the right occasion have to be chosen.

We have stories, the fables, the anecdotes that we have in which a student comes to the teacher and asks a particular question. And the teacher says, “I will answer you”. And then eight months later when the opportunity presents itself that’s when the teacher says this, this is the answer.

There has to be this kind of sensitivity to having the right time and the audience in the right frame of mind. You can not just, have an attitude wherein, you care only for your own righteousness, thinking nothing of the other. And in the next movement you get kind of hurt when people do not reciprocate your avowedly kind intentions. If you want your kind intentions to be reciprocated, then be really empathetic.

Know that your responsibility, as we said, extends beyond just speaking. We communicate to bring wellness to other. We do not communicate to speak the Truth. Nobody can communicate to speak the Truth. There exist nothing like the Truth to be spoken. The purpose of communication is wellness or welfare, not Truth.

Equally, you could say that which bring real wellness to the other is Truth. Nothing else is the Truth.

So, if you are failing to bring wellness to the other, for sure it is not the Truth that’s there in your words. Now after this kind of care and depth of compassion, there still would be a few or many who just wouldn’t listen or would listen to you from pre-determined hostile centers. Then you can probably say that you have come to the utter end of your responsibility and now you can not do much more with such people. And then what you would be saying would be probably admissible.

When you have done your utter best, even after that there do remain people who are beyond your capacity to mend. Because after all listening and understanding are sovereign decision. Irrespective of how hard you try; you cannot force someone to understand and to move towards his own welfare.

So, a few people would still remain, totally deaf to your words, totally impervious to your kind intentions. Then you can excuse yourself. You can then honestly say “I did try my best, but I could not get success with these few people”. But obviously that is to be said after you have done your best with total empathy.

How do you know whether you have done your best? Here is a hint, when you are trying to reach out to the other, to explain the other you will have to leave your own position. You cannot say that “I am a scholar therefore I will use scholarly language”. You cannot say, I love Indian history, therefore I will come with example only from Indian history.

You can not say that the world of the other is untouchable, they live in filthy places, therefore I won’t go close to them. You cannot say, I speak from the heights of the Truth, and the listeners are all rolling down in the mud, I wouldn’t stoop down to them. The genuine communicator, and we are talking spirituality here because you said you want to bring spiritual Truths to the people.

We have to be a very versatile person, and that versatility is not a skill, it is compassion. He will be prepared to leave all that is secondary or external about him. Only the Truth at his heart he can not leave, he is helpless in that matter. Except for that one thing, he will be prepared to compromise on everything.

He will stoop, he will change, he will bend, he can go left or right, he can switch languages, he can act juvenile for a while, he can start from where the audience stands. He will have no definite personality of his own. At least he will try not to have. His need to wear a particular favorable personality would be smaller than his empathy towards his listeners.

So, he will not be hesitant in going to places that are generally considered off-limits. When Truth is at the heart, then you have very little need to hold on to anything else. All else then becomes negotiable. You can not say, your name Please?

Q: My name is Amrit Pandey.

AP: You cannot say I am Amrit, and I am a serious fellow. Amrit being a serious fellow is something that keeps Amrit as Amrit. And that is the ego’s need. Who is Amrit? A serious fellow. If Amrit needs to act chirpy and jovial for the sake of his audience, he must change. He must change, change not from internally, change for his cause. Like one changes clothes. Do you keep wearing the same clothes 24/7? Different times, different places and different clothes. Right Amrit?

Q: Yes.

AP: Similarly, your personality has to be very flexible. Your biases must be all disposable. There has to be only one thing important, the Truth. All else can be done away with as and when the need arises. But unfortunately, we do not get too many examples of such empathy. And the general notion, is that teacher’s caries a specific persona. If a teacher is particular about the persona he carries. And I am saying teacher here because that’s where you are coming from right? When you are trying to initiate a spiritual discussion, somewhere you are reaching in that domain. So, teachers who necessarily carry a specific persona, I doubt whether they are of much use to their audiences. I understand that the personality can not be fully offloaded, it is not something you can actually take off like your shirt, but to whatever extent you can manage it, you must. Let me add one last thing to it Amrit.

To your words people listen later, the first thing that they listen to is your empathy. They want to see whether your face and your eyes carry their pains, if your eyes contain not a bit of the pain that they live in, they will be not able to listen to you.

Truth is not about lofty words and scholarly theories. Truth is first of all a deep desire, to help. If they see that you want to help, they will listen. Then they will listen even if they are not able to make perfect sense of your words. In fact, then they may listen even if they are not able to make much of your words. But they will still listen, and they will even benefit, without even understanding your words properly, they will still benefit.

On the other hand, your words might be accurate, your arguments might be perfect, your erudition might be flawless, yet you will find your word hitting an impenetrable wall, if you are not coming from the position of empathy. And you will wonder, you will say everything, about my word, logic is closed to perfection, why I am not able to penetrate then?

It’s not knowledge that penetrates the other. It’s love. Knowledge is small thing, very small thing. The world has not remembered the scholars so much, they have been given their due share of respect. It is the great lovers who become immortal in the heart. The saint is always above the scholar. And somehow the saint comes to know every bit of what the scholar knows. Love is a great teacher; love will beget knowledge.

However, it is not necessary that knowledge begets love. So, look for these things, empathy, compassion, wellness, welfare, Love. Arguments and logic and scholarliness and knowledge they are great things, but mean nothing in absence of love. You are saying something?

Q: Sir, in regard to changing yourself when you are communicating with others, so that they are comfortable and have a welfare and healing effect, communication as you taught. My greatest fear is that, If I change just for communicating with others, I will lose my originality and what has made me, and the thigs that I am identified.

Even though all the teachings that I have got, whether it is Bhagavad Gita or listening to great man like you. They all teach the way of love. Which teaches that we should not identified ourselves with things. So, but what has made me all the knowledge that I have without identifying myself to those, I fear that I might lose all those.

AP: See, that’s what, that’s from where the problem is arising. You are not yet fully established in the Truth; therefore, you are insecure. Truth is not like the personality; Truth is not an idea; Truth is not a facial expression a pair of jeans. Truth is something that starts flowing in your veins. We said it seats in the heart. There cannot be no cause for insecurity, if you really have it, you cannot, lose it. How can you then, feel apprehensive?

And this is exactly what happens when people feel that Truth is something, that might be snatched away, or that might get dropped, then they close their fists, then with great desperation, they clutch the Truth. When when you close your face and you clutch at something, then you cannot open your arms to the world.

With joyful abandon, you can open your arms to the world, to your audience, only when you are fully secure that even if you are in that kind of open position, even if you have made yourself so vulnerable to everybody. Somebody with his arms stretched out, is quite in a vulnerable position, is he not? He is totally bare now, uncovered and defenseless.

You have to have the inner assurance, that even in such a vulnerable position you will not drop or lose the Truth, because it so deep within you that you can not lose it. If you do not have that inner assurance, then instead of being fully devoted to understanding the audience, a big part of your attention, will be towards somehow defending your own needs.

At this moment, I really do not know my name, at this moment I am not worried about my past, my future, what is happening this time, who you are, nothing matters, what matters is just your welfare. I have no task of my own to take care of at this movement, and that is the reason, I can concentrate completely on you.

Think of another scenario; there is very precious thing, precious and fragile, resting here on my lap, even as I am speaking to you, it is both precious and fragile. I am afraid, I might drop it and loose it. What will be the quality of the conversation with you? I will not be fully with it. A big part of me will be deployed towards, just taking care of my own security needs.

Something about me is at stake, then your interests will become secondary. When I speak to you, I must be totally carefree. I need to have nothing on my side to take care of, only then, I can invest myself completely in taking care of you. I must feel absolutely assured, about the Truth on my side. I need not defend it. It is already defended.

I have no guilt within, I am completely loyal to the Truth, I do not fear something about me might get exposed in this conversation, therefore I need not premeditate and talk. Therefore, I can be very dynamic, and very unthinking, I am choosing these words with all due care.

I need not think in advance about what I am going to say next. I can allow to myself to flow, knowing fully well, irrespective of what the flow takes me the Truth will be with me. I am not going to lose it; I am fully secure.

Only when there is something within that just can not change then you can afford to completely, change on the outside, as per the need of the occasion. The Truthful person carries the Truth, and therefore, need not carry a specific personality. The personality remains changeable. Come the occasion comes the personality. As per the question, comes the response.

So, then before you speak to others you need to work on yourself. Your chief problems, it turns out is not others. Your cheap problem is, your own instability and insecurity with respect the Truth. You are not yet fully established, or deeply established. As you establish yourself deeper in the Truth, you will find yourself becoming more and more carefree. You will say it is not in my lap anymore, it is in my heart now, I cannot lose it.

To not to lose the Truth, lose all that about yourself, that deserves to be lost. When it comes to picking between yourself, and the Truth I need not say, how you should choose? Right?

Work primarily on yourself, and then your interaction with the others will be taken care of. You will not even realize when you have become an expert communicator. Communicator or speaker or teacher will then be small words, because thats anyway you have not intended to be. You are a lover, and out of love you speak, it’s just that when you do something out of love, it just becomes beautiful.

So, your communication become beautiful, and people will wonder. People will try to analyze your communication skills, using their own frameworks. They will say, this fellow communicates very well, because he knows where to pause, because he has a very dynamic tempo, they will come up with all such theories. Whereas the fact would be that you would be just speaking without caring for any theory.

Leave it to the scholars and the experts, to keep analyzing your communication later on. Let them record your speeches and conversations and break their heads over it. And obviously they will come up with their conclusions, and they will say you know, such and such things are being done.

Maybe such and such things are being done, but you were not doing them, or at least not purposefully, they are just happening. So, great things just happen when you have the welfare of the other in mind and nothing else. Right? Everything falls in place, you know the right words to choose, you know that sometimes you need to hug rather speak, you know, sometimes silence works better than erudition. These things then happen.

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